baby

Posted by Ellen

Pushing a baby stroller at sunset, across a frozen lake near Lahti, Finland.

Posted by Ellen

You know what they say: yes, it looks impressive, but the fact is that Allen probably beats his niece two games out of three.

Posted by Ellen

Notes from the Office of War Information, December 1943: "In the evening, Hugh Massman and his wife fold diapers. Joey's bureau drawer crib is moved to the side of their bed for the night."

The Massman family lived in Washington in 1943 while Hugh, a petty officer in the navy, attended a specialized training program. Photographer Esther Bubley spent a few days with them for a feature story about military family life.

After the war, the family returned home to Montana, where they had seven more children.

Posted by Ellen

Fixin to fly.

Posted by Ellen

Baby Robin, almost five months old now, is our most adorable grandbaby by far. Also our only one, though this year and next are bringing many, many new babies to the wider family, each of them at least as adorable as the next.

Baby pix are sure to show up here, but in an effort to distinguish these pages from the pages of Facebook, at least some of the time we'll try to pretend that there are other subjects worth looking at ....

Posted by Ellen

Lila Mae Helmke was 23 years old in 1936 when she appeared in this family portrait with her husband Bill, their son Allen, and her husband's brother, whose name was not recorded.

The photographer, Russell Lee, noted that the family all lived "in a one-room shack on a ninety-acre farm near Dickens, Iowa, owned by a lawyer."

We don't know how long Lila Mae and her family lived in that shack. But she and her husband had been born into farming families in Palo Alto County, Iowa, in the early years of the twentieth century, and they had been educated in country schools there. When they married in 1934, in the depths of the Depression, prospects for American farmers were nightmarish, even in places like northern Iowa, where the topsoil was three feet thick.

We have no record that the Helmkes ever owned any farmland. But they were farmers, and they stuck it out, trying to make a go of it somehow or other, for the first seventeen years of their married life, till Lila Mae was 38 and Bill was in his mid-forties.

In 1951, they gave it up and moved to town. They settled in Ruthven, Iowa, about seven miles east of the farmland near Dickens, where they had been born and raised.

By 1951, they had two nearly grown children, Allen and his younger brother Elton, known as Butch. Both boys would grow up, marry, and raise their own families in Ruthven, and they were still living there in January 2006, almost seventy years after the photo was taken, when their mother's death at the age of 92 was reported in the the Graettinger Times newspaper. Husband Bill–William August Helmke–had died in 1976, when he was 69.

Once the family had moved to town, Lila worked as a substitute cook at the Ruthven Community School and cleaned houses and the Ruthven State Bank.

She enjoyed sewing, gardening, and cooking, according to the obituary writer, and loved Jackie Gleason, Red Skelton, and The Price is Right.

The cat in the photo may have loomed large in her life: "She always had a family pet," wrote the obituary writer.

The smiling young man who is holding the cat in his lap, however, is lost to time. The photographer noted only that he was Bill Helmke's brother; we don't know his name, and Lila Mae's obituarist did not mention him at all, not in the list of survivors and not in the list of the predeceased. He looks of an age in 1936 to be called off to war just a few years after sitting for the family portrait, but even that detail is beyond our knowing.

Posted by Ellen

Shorpy tells us the hundred-plus-year-old glass plate that produced this photo is something he bought on eBay.  Apparently, nothing is known about the image, except that it features photographic technology, and perhaps also props and fashion, that date it to approximately 1910.

The brand of the stove, Peninsular, suggests the location may be southern Michigan or northern Ohio.

All in all, what we've got here are two unknown people in an unknown kitchen, taking a moment from their unknown lives to look us right straight in the eye, from the distant shores of the early twentieth century.

Note that they've been saving old newspapers up on top of the cabinet.

Posted by Ellen

Baby Jake catches Game 7 of his first World Series, along with mom Caitlin. It's educational for Jake, we're told; as young as he is, he might as well start learning that the good guys don't always win.